I was a Live Exhibit at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum Dulles Annex, Udvar-Hazy Center,
March 25, 2006

Monday, June 28, 2004

Sunday, June 27 at High Rock

Along with many others, I started the day at the Pulpit, hoping the forecast of west rather than northwest would work out. Tom McGowan was already high over the valley out front at 1:00 when I arrived, and a full crew was assisting Dave Proctor on the old ramp as I drove up. He launched as I unloaded my glider. The crew came down to say he had been on launch 15 minutes, and the winds were so strong none of them were setting up. We watched the two brave pilots get stinking high and begin their eastward journey. With that, I joined a mass migration to High Rock.
Since it was blowing so strong at the Pulpit, it was, of course, rather light at High Rock. We all flew, but most of us for not very long. Only Brian Hardwick acquitted himself well during the mid afternoon heating, with some impressive low saves, and a fine flight. Brian Vant-Hull, David Bodner, Doug Henderson, Curtis Kemerer, Carlos Weill, and I all had basic extendos, and Sparky did only a little better, reporting a 1000’ gain over Emma Jane’s house on his way out. The normal HR sled for me is 6 minutes. I logged 8 minnutes today, so I hereby claim an extendo, a d a quality landing with a 3 step run out.
With a second shuttle run back to the top, we helped David B. and BVH launch into the building late afternoon winds after 6:00 pm. As I drove off to home, they were both over the ridge, looking like they would have fine flights to finish the day.

Saturday,. June 26 at Woodstock

Notwithstanding the naysaying, negative prognostication from our local apprentice meteorologist in training about the lack of promise for Saturday flying, it was a gorgeous, spectacular day at Woodstock. Rather a shame that so few pilots came out to enjoy it. I arrived to find Hank Hengst already set up, waiting for company. There were several paraglider pilots sitting watching it blow, not bothering to unpack their wings.
Soon after I arrived, Allen Sparks, Gary Smith, and Bruce Engen all showed up. One by one we hit the sky, with Hank leading the charge. Bruce was next, with the inaugural flight of his new U2. Gary Smith and I were off soon after Bruce. Sparky had set up the new Falcon 225, and decided to wait for lighter air with such a big floater. While he was waiting, Christy Huddle got to launch and was soon airborne. She tacked north on the ridge, to join Hank and Gary who were already talking great altitude gains. At one point I heard Hank announce he was going through 6000’. They have made their own reports about crashing a party up north with tehir landings.
I continued boating around near launch, catching one strong thermal that took me to 2145’ over launch. Most of my flying was between 400 and 1000 over. Sparky launched in the big Falcon late in the afternoon. At two hours in the sky, I headed out to the LZ, still playing with lift over the farms. I landed with 2:06 (with a perfect no step). Bruce joined me in the main LZ shortly later, reporting 2 1/2 hours for that first U2 flight. Sparky joined us saying he saw us both down and wanted to b polite. He drove the three of us to the top, and as I was heading for home at 7:00 p.m. he was preparing to launch his bag wing, to join the other PG pilots who had waited so patiently all day.

Saturday, June 19, Woodstock

The forecast was northwest winds at 13, with a 30% rain chance. That sounded like a reasonable shot for Woodstock. I met Wesley Comerer in the LZ, since I was observing him for the day. We carpooled to launch. Many folks on hand. John Middleton, Allen Sparks, Mark Cavanaugh, Gary Smith, Christy Huddle, Rich Alexander, Shawn Ray, Kelvin Pierce, and Brian Hardwick. Steve Kinsley started the day with us. There were also a passle of paraglider pilots on hand.
As I walked up to launch about 1:30, it was near calm. Too light even for the PG types to launch. By 2:30 it was honking fast winds. Steve Kinsley declared it a bust and headed home. His sacrifice appeased the sky gods. Around 5:45 it got reasonable again,and the launch sequence began. I threw Wesley off shortly after 6:00, with a good strong launch. This was his first mountain flight on his new Eagle. I was running into the sky at 6:38. I topped out at 760’ over launch, while most others were up around 1K over. Nonetheless, I had a nice 62 minute flight. Was a tiny bit late on the flare, so kind of clunked down into the grass. Not too graceful, but safe.
The evening ran late, and we did not clear the LZ until nearly 10:00 p.m. That meant the regular dinner haunts in Strassburg were closed. After making the rounds we ended up at Fox’s Pizza. Eric Logan even joined us, regaling us with wayback stories traded with Christy and John M.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Highland Aerosports Fly In, June 12-13

This annual flying party beckoned me once more. On Saturday I counted more than 45 gliders set up or in the air. Many pilots reported stellar performances. I got pretty good at finding sink, logging two sleds of 11 and 12 minutes, and then on my third flight finding only one working thermal. (Well, finding is not exactly the right term - Windsor dropped me in one. ) I did log 26 minutes on that one, with a max of 3100’.
The full effect of the weekend was great. Greg DeWolf spent all day Saturday filming every landing. After dinner and awards, he played the videos on his computer, critiquing each landing for us all. Dennis Pagen joined him, so we had two of the finest teachers around giving a mini clinic on landing techniques! At least I got good marks for two of my three landings!
Dinner was fantastic, awards were fun, crowd was friendly. I slept like a log, and had no complaints about my snoring this year (unlike last year). I heard later there were some noise complaints about another tent, but I missed out on all of that.
Sunday was overcast and a bit drizzly. I was preparing to fly when Jason reported rain at the house, so I packed up. Others flew with good reports, but I just enjoyed the picnic table lunch chatter for two hours before braving the return trip over the Bay Bridge.

Sunday, June 6, Blue Sky Flight Park

I was WAY overdue for a visit to Virginia’s fine flight park. Friendly people but light winds were happening there. I drove down with John Middleton. Found Rance Ruppp, Chris Cioffi, Jim Kerrigan, Tim Eggers, and a few others at the park.
I first had Tex tow me aloft with the ultralight tug, but only worked one thermal for a flight of 18 minutes. Rance came in under me for that same bubble, and worked a flight with that and others for close to an hour. Go, Rance!
I then got Steve to run me off the back of the truck five times, to get in some landing practice. Winds were so poor, I only got off at 600’ for each run, but that worked perfectly for thepractice I needed. Had five good landings from the truck tows, so I was quite satisfied with the day.

Sunday, May 29, High Rock

Dan Tomlinson and I drove up for the first High Rock day in a long time for either of us. I met David Bodner there, having agreed to observe his flight that day. David had walked the LZ and reported high grass. We all discussed the options with the grass, and most of us chose to fly.
Dan and I both had mediocre launches ,with varying amounts of nose pop. David showed us up with a clean quality launch, going straight off the rock with no dive out.
I only eaked 8 minutes from the flight, but drove off my high grass demons with a less than pretty but safe bump down landing into the grass.
The entire Pierce family was present, with Kelvin giving one daughter her first tandem flight. Matthew and Karen, Ralph Sickinger, Curtis Kemerer, and many other pilots enjoyed the lovely day.
Thanks to Ralph for saving the day in pictures. My launch can be seen here.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Sunday, May 23, 2004, Highland Aerosports, Ridgely MD

There has been way too much idle time between my flying days. Business travel, parental duties, weekend classes all conspired to give me a 6 week break in flying. Today the forecast we for SW winds 1-12, but with a chance of late day thunderstorms. I arrived at Ridgely early, to find Larry Huffman and Pete Lehmann presiding over their advanced cross country clinic. I spent the morning with the Highland staff, watching a few tandem lessons and waiting for signs of lift – like little cummie clouds forming in the distance. About 2:00 several pilots decided to give it a try. Jason played wind dummy, and reported very small thermals, but nothing he could work. John Middleton did better, finding enough to stretch out a 25 minute flight. I had my first launch at 2:30, but after a rather rowdy first 500 feet, popped the weak link at 640 feet. I returned to the main LZ, landing in some turbulence, and missing my flare to belly in on the wheels. Again. Darn. Again.
I got right back in line, and this time the tow was much smoother. Tug Pilot Windosr dropped me right in a working thermal, that I slowly rode from 2500’ to 3000’. Then I spent a while flying in and out of the lift, effectively maintaining atr 3K. Lost that one over the swampy woods, and was not able to find anything else. Landed with 15 minutes airtime with a very smooth no step right by the taxiway. Rather tired and hot, I took a break for a coke and snack, and found the hammock by the picnic tables quite inviting. The plan was a third late day flight, expecting a sled. However, shortly after 4:00 Sunny called in all the aircraft when they spotted a thunderstorm in the distance. I rushed to break down the glider, and was on the road about 5:00. It was not a super day as flying goes, but it was excellent to get back into the sky.

Sunday, April 10, 2004, Highland Aerosports, Ridgely MD

It was a light lift day at the tow park, but I made the best of it. On my first flight at 3:30 I pinned off at the standard 2500’, but found no lift until I had descended to 100’. I caught a good working thermal there and rode it back up to 1900’. That was the only one I found for the day, but it gave me a satisfying 25 minute flight. I was pleased to nail a clean no-step flare landing.
At 5:10 I gave it a late day try for number 2. This time the best I could do was milk areas of light sink, stretching my sled into a 13 minute flight. This time I finished off with a good 4-step run out landing.

Saturday, April 9, 2004, Woodstock, VA

The forecast was 10 - 15 NW, which attracted a crowd hopeful for spring time lift and cross-country potential. We all found abundant lift and opportunity for adventure. After observing David Bodner on his launch, I headed off the mountain about 3:50. My first 10 minutes were playing in messy ridge lift, looking fob the sweet spot on the ridge. I stumbled into the right spot, catching a thermal at 400’ over launch and riding it up to 3860’ over, 5700msl. I descended from that max and spent most of the flight about 1300’ above launch. Many other pilots ran the ridge for a lot of xc activity, including forays way out over the valley toward I-81. I played it very reserved and stayed in the sky near launch. Eventually I got a bit cold and queasy, so I headed out to land, pushing through the lift to land after 68 minutes. I made one more 360 turn before entering the base leg than I should have, so my turn to final was much too low. I pulled it off, but then was late to flare and bellied in on the wheels. Darn.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Woodstock 4/3/04 - Return to the Mountains

I just checked my logbook. Darn, my Woodstock flight yesterday was my first high flight since the day before Thanksgiving! That is just WAAAY too long between flights. It was also my first UltraSport flight since January. I just gotta get out more. (In January I had a Taylor day with 6 Falcon flights and one US flight.)
Sorry so many folks went pessimistic on forecasts. If you'd have come out, you'd have had a great day. At least, if you flew plumbing, you'd have had a great day.
I had the pleasure of throwing three H2's off, each of them displaying good solid launch runs and clean escape from the slot into the abundant lift. Ken Swingle, Wesley Comerer, and Daniel Broxterman all got well over an hour of flying, a couple of them reaching 1800' over launch. Of the three, I only saw Ken's landing, which was very good, with good approach pattern, properly adjusted for the WSW wind direction, and pretty darn close to the spot that Sparky had set out for Gene.
I launched at 4:00, and succeeded in having a nice 62 minutes, working both ridge lift and the occasional tight FAST thermal that came ripping through. By 4:30 we even had blue sky with lightly scattered clouds. What a beautiful day! I maxed out at 1300 over launch, and kept looking up at Joe Schad in his Falcon, and a couple of other pilots. I set up my approach too low, so my last turn was much too close to the ground. And then I missed the flare window by 1 second! Darn.
Sparky gets major credit for arriving early to launch Gene Towns, and then staying on the hill late to push Rance Rupp into the sky. What a dedicated Observer!
Nelson Lewis was the first to launch yesterday. He turned right and I never saw him again. Wonder how far he got?
Final comment - it was good of the H2s to have beer. However, just how respectful is it to fly longer, get higher, and have better landings than your Observer???
Good work, guys!

Off Season Training Report, Jan - Mar 04

Well, the weather and my personal schedule failed to cooperate for flying high in winter and early spring. But that did not keep me out from under a glider completely. The training hills beckoned more than once, and I was able to keep my hand (foot?) in the hang gliding game a little.
January 3 I headed down to Taylor Farm to join a mass of HG and PG pilots. John Middleton had a lesson going with several students. Chris McKee was out dusting the cobwebs off of his UltraSport. Karen Carra and Ellis Kim were there to practice with their paragliders. Winds were switchy, so I mostly worked flat runs in the LZ. However, I did get in two flights on one of John's Falcons, as well as one using Chris's UltraSport.
March was the busy month, with three training hill days. March 7 Dan Tomlinson and I met John Middleton at Taylor, and also found Juan Ortiz giving a paraglider lesson to several new students. I only took one flight that day, on my Pulse, but Dan did complete three. We were back at Taylor on March 12, where the wind was mostly cross from the left. We were able to wait out usable launch cycles, and I flew my Pulse 4 times, Dan 3.
Then on March 28, Dan and I made the longer drive to Oregon Ridge park, northwest of Baltimore. Quite a crowd! John Middleton and Richard hays each had full classes, with about six students each. Danny Brotto was there with his new-to-him 20 year old Harrier. David Rice came out for a practice day. Dan an I each got four very satisfying flights on my Pulse. We were all amazed at the amount of ground effect glide we got on landing, carrying us well in to the golf practice area to the right of the band shell. Dan and I were tired after four flights from 2/3 up the hill. Wesley Comerer completed 8 flights, all from the very top. That is a LOT of glider carries!